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UFC Fight Night 106 predictions: ‘Belfort vs Gastelum’ Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

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More fights are coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., March 11, 2017) when UFC Fight Night 106: “Belfort vs. Gastelum” storms Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza in Fortaleza, Brazil.’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 106 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series.

The world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion heads to Fortaleza, Brazil, this Saturday evening (March 11, 2017) with two very different Middleweight contenders taking center stage inside Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza.

In the FOX Sports 1-televised main event, Kelvin Gastelum looks to build off his knockout of Tim Kennedy at Vitor Belfort’s expense, while Gian Villante faces the legendary “Shogun” Rua in the co-feature. In addition, Beneil Dariush squares off with Edson Barboza in a clash of Top 10-ranked Lightweight contenders and Ray Borg looks to re-establish his position as the top Flyweight prospect against Jussier “Formiga.”

It’s another night of “Prelims” undercard matches split between FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Let’s get it going:

145 lbs.: Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Kennedy

Hopes were high for Team Nogueira’s Rony Jason (14-6) after he ran through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Brazil” and picked up impressive stoppage wins in his next two fights. He proceeded to hit a 1-3 (1 NC) skid, an impressive submission of Damon Jackson overturned because of a failed drug test that kept him out of action for 14 months.

Eight of his 13 stoppage wins have come by submission.

Jeremy Kennedy (9-0) entered UFC with pristine amateur (3-0) and professional (8-0) records, as well as a regional title under his belt. His debut saw him keep the streak alive with a decision over countryman Alex Ricci, whom he overpowered in the clinch for 15 minutes.

He stands four inches taller than Jason at 5’11.”

“Jason” has always had oodles of potential, but at almost 33 years old it’s time to put up or shut up. The core issue is the fact that the disparate aspects of his game don’t really mesh — his wild striking doesn’t blend with his takedowns and he doesn’t have enough one-punch power to justify his stand up approach.

Still, that killer grappling might be enough here. Kennedy isn’t anywhere near the wrestler Bermudez is and his willingness to tie up plays right into Jason’s hands. So long as the Brazilian remembers that he’s a jiu-jitsu artist first and foremost, expect him to lock up a choke in transition late in the first.

Prediction: Jason via first-round submission

135 lbs.: Joe Soto vs. Rani Yahya

Joe Soto (17-5) — a former Bellator Featherweight champion — stepped up on short notice to take on then-champion T.J. Dillashaw in his Octagon debut. Though he lost the bout and his next two, he’s kept himself afloat with consecutive impressive submissions of Chris Beal and Marco Beltran.

“One Bad Mofo’s” last seven wins have all come by stoppage.

Rani Yahya (23-8) — who made the transition from World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) to UFC — ended his run with the former 0-2 and split his first two bouts in the latter. Undaunted, he has gone 7-1 (1 NC) since 2012, including an unbeaten run at Bantamweight.

He has submitted 17 opponents as a professional, all but one via choke.

What’s interesting about this fight is that Yahya has faced and beaten two consecutive Soto-esque fighters in Matthew Lopez and Michinori Tanaka. He’s done an excellent job of developing the Demian Maia style where he needs only the slightest physical contact to transition from the feet to a dominant spot on the mat.

Soto’s crafty, but not crafty enough.

Even if he hasn’t always looked good doing it, Yahya’s beaten bigger and stronger scramblers than Soto. Expect a standard Yahya fight wherein he dominates position in the early rounds and survives a late surge to take the decision.

Prediction: Yahya via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Garreth McLellan vs. Paulo Henrique Costa

Garreth McLellan (13-5) punched his ticket to UFC with two successful defenses of his EFC Middleweight title, both via submission. He’s gone 1-3 in the promotion itself with losses to Bartosz Fabinski, Magnus Cedenblad and Alessio Di Chirico.

“Soldier Boy” is 10 years older than his opponent and owns nine professional wins via submission.

Paulo Henrique Costa (8-0) — Team Wanderlei’s second pick on TUF: “Brazil 3” — fell to Team Sonnen top pick Marcio Alexander in the quarterfinals. Returning to the Brazilian circuit, he has won five straight, earning and defending the Jungle Fight middleweight title in his last two bouts.

All eight of his professional fights have ended in the first round, seven by knockout.

“Borrachinha” looks like he’s come a long way since losing to Lyoto. Now 25, he’s an imposing figure with serious power in his hands. His boxing appears fairly effective and he doubles up well with the left hook.

McLellan is more experienced by far, but he’s yet to put everything together in the Octagon. He lacks the wrestling to bring his strong top game to bear and his striking, while decently effective, isn’t far above “functional.” We’re likely in for a stand up battle that McLellan doesn’t seem equipped to win.

Costa’s history of first-round finishes could portend some cardio issues, but he hits hard enough to put McLellan away well before that crops up.

Prediction: Costa via first-round technical knockout

Four more UFC Fight Night 106 fights to preview and predict, capped off by an excellent Lightweight showdown. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs! will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 106 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Source:: mma mania